Saturday, November 22, 2008

G.K. Chesterton on Humility in the Wrong Place

I think this is what made the election season so hard for me:


"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert--himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."


HT: Josh Harris

Friday, November 21, 2008

Travel round up part 3

Things that weren't obvious to me, but might be to you:


Free wireless is very hard to find internationally. . . . . Especially at European airports :) It's like 6 euros an hour (around 10 dollars). So, be ready for that, with a credit card.


Have trident chewing gum on you at all times while you're en route. It helps with a) bad breath after breathing airplane air for 12 hours. b) lack of ear pain for takeoffs/landings c) able to kiss your wife most of the time, even if you've woken up from a 3 hour "nap" on an airplane. Always a good idea.

Either have a fanny pack (hopelessly lame) or one of these new "neckstrap pouch/holder things" for passport/boarding pass/a little cash/etc. . .. . It's good to just have those things on your person, they can fall out of your carry-on sometimes. :) I wish I had a picture of ours. . but it's like a large wallet attached to a long neckstrap (so it goes under your shirt). Very handy.

Don't eat fresh food/drinks anywhere in a 3rd world country. By fresh I mean. . . . vegetables/unbottled water/tea/fruits/salad. If it's not water. . .it's washed in water and not cooked. (vegetables have alot of local water in them)

I'm often ridiculed for my diet. . . . some of it is warranted. :) But, I ate chicken and bread for 5 days in Ethiopia and never even felt sick. hate the game, don't hate the player. . . . . .


Figure out when you should sleep/stay awake based on where you are headed. Try to sleep on planes/layovers/etc. . . . .to keep yourself on a schedule. The first day you arrive at a destination, try to just power through until normal sleeping hours, local time. The next day you'll be good to go (even though that first night will probably not be your best night of sleep). I've been bitten by this in the past as I've flown to Europe all the way to Australia. . . .it's important to think through this.

You can't pay for advice like this . . . . .

Crazy Aaron.
Crazy Aaron. . .

Travel round up part 2

Here's some of the things we bought for the trip. . . . . .



Rocketfish portable power source: B



This is a nice little gadget. It's like a mini-generator for small electronics. It gives 40 hours to an I-Pod, 4 hours to a DVD player, and 2 hours to a laptop.

It worked really well, and because of this little gadget, Jody and I were able to watch the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy on my laptop during our trip. It has US power and USB hookups.

The only problem, is it doesn't work really well in small intervals You have to charge it all night. . and it works great. If you use it a bit, turn it off and then come back. . etc. . . . it seemed to not have alot of juice left.


Sony Extended Life Battery: A -


This battery gives you about 3 1/2 hours of power on your laptop. If you're a non-Mac user (and not an elitist :) ) It's the best thing for your PC. As stated earlier, we watched some pretty long movies via Windows Media Center (not wmplayer. . . it's way nicer).

It does get pretty hot. . .thus the A -


Canon PowerShot A 590: A +

This is a ridiculous camera. We bought it with an 8 gig memory card and it takes video up to like 5 or 6 minutes at a time, has a vast array of photo presets, and the batteries seem to last a long time.

I actually like shorter videos better than going the traditional camcorder/dad/annoying birthday party route :). It's good accountability to have to limit your video length :)

I obviously can't take a picture of the camera or memory card. . .but check it out, it's great!


Monster Headphone splitter: A ++



If you're like me, you've tried to jerry-rig headphone inputs for years. . stereo to mono, pulling the plug half way out, 1/8-1/4 adapters, shorting out cables. . . .etc

This does all the work for you, there's independent volume control for both sides. Both sides are in stereo, and Monster connections are the best in the business. ( I have them for all my guitar stuff).

It's great if you're traveling with someone else because of the different volume controls and flexibility of the cable.

Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate: A -

This is a little free trial video compressor/converter. It makes putting videos on facebook/blogger/wordpress/youtube, etc. . . very easy by compressing your videos for you. It works very fast, and you set the quality and size perameters before it converts. It literally takes 5 minutes to upload a video all the way to blogger from your camera.

The only bummer is that your free trial version cuts every video in half. But, if you have a nice camera you can just film what you want and then point the camera towards the floor until you've doubled the length of your video. . . then it cuts the video perfectly! (I'm all about rednecking the video compression :) )



Ok, enough of my evaluations. . I'll stop boring all of you. . . here's a video of Malachi (and Eden) working on the quads. Enjoy!


video

Crazy Aaron's Travel Round-Up

Hi everyone.

So, we've been back for two weeks now. Things are going really well; I wish I wasn't coming back to an insanely busy work season, finishing off the new album, and the madness of the Holidays. . . . but that's ok. We're adjusting well to Malachi, and he's doing really well with us. I'm learning that it's harder to wake up for the early morning feedings when you're in your 30's as opposed to your 20's. :)

When I used to wake up and feed Providence, I was 22. . . .yikes, the years go fast.

Anyway, Malachi is a blessing, and he's brought alot of joy to our house.

I thought I could be of service to some of you by offering my opinions on all things related to world travel.

Perhaps not. . . . .but here goes anyway. . .

CRAZY AARON'S TRAVEL ROUND UP!!!!!

(I think I'll get my own show on PBS, I'll get you, Rick Stevens!!)

Airports:

We flew into 5 different airports and stopped for gas in The Sudan and Syria. .

(apparently the only places to get gas in the eastern hemisphere are really dangerous countries. . .but it was the middle of the night both times. And, they didn't print that on our tickets :) (for obvious reasons)
Here's the rundown:

Denver: B. Still looks like new, and operates pretty swiftly as airports go. Downgraded because of over eager security/immigration/agricultural personnel. But, I guess that's for the best . . . .

Calgary: B+. Very nice airport. Nice little mall area for the international terminal. Jody and I got massages before our overnight trip to London. Downgraded for lack of good restaurants, distance from the city, and lack of power outlets for my laptop. (much more on this in the next post)

London Heathrow: A -. This airport is bigger than my hometown. It's a small city and you have to take buses to get around to the different terminals. But, it's kind of cool because you feel like you're in London with the cool buses and all. The international terminal is great because there's a pretty large mall with a few restaurant choices. The only bad part was the smell of fresh fish and calamari next to the coffee shop at 6 a.m. Small downgrade for the power outlets in the wall not working.

Addis Ababa (Bole international airport, Ethiopia): A -. Big international area. There were a multitude of restaurants. . but none seemed to be stellar. Big upgrades for many Islamic and Orthodox Christian clerics walking around in full dress (with posse in tow).

Frankfurt: D Very few restaurants (I remember 1). . . . long "death star-esque" terminal walkways. . .some rude German people.

Airlines:

United: C Still just the worst airline to work with. They have good planes and they own the Denver airport. . . but that doesn't mean that they can be unhelpful, terse, and pompous. (ok, I'm done, sorry)

BMI, Air Canada: B They have some cool media centers on the back of the seat in front of you. British Midland even has video games with a controller.

Lufthansa: A++++. This is the most ridiculously nice airline I've ever worked with. Their planes are huge, their staff is helpful and friendly, they have hi-end media centers on the seats in front of you. . where you pick movies, tv shows, music, etc. . . I got to watch a documentary on Leonard Bernstein and then "30 Rock". Who knew?
A Lufthansa phone operator upgraded me to a bulkhead/basinet(crib) seat with no extra charge and no hassle. And, the steward (is that what the man-stewardesses are called???) kept warming up cold water for Malachi's bottle. Very helpful. . .
The planes have a downstairs bathroom area with 7 (roomy) bathrooms, two of which had changing tables for the baby. The whole company is a class act. If you're flying to Europe (especially from Denver), you gotta fly Lufthansa. By the 2nd flight, I was actually looking forward to getting on the plane. Well, I guess i was coming out of the Frankfurt airport :) but still. . . .


My next post will evaluate some of the travel gadgets that Jody and I came across. . . .

Crazy Aaron

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bittersweet

We started to get a little sad for Malachi that he was leaving his country, perhaps forever, . . but at least for a long time. Here's some of his last moments in the Ethiopian airport with his amazing mother. . . . .


video

Friday, November 7, 2008

Play time

So, besides governmental appointments and eating. . . this is what we did alot in Ethiopia. We got to know Malachi a bit. He wanted to do this by plaing with us. . .so we did! Here's a video of he and Jody from the hotel room.

Aaron


video

Starting early

Here's a video of me and Malachi learning the basics of sports. . . . good times.

Aaron
video

Hello Germany!

Ok, so we'll commence with the media. . . . . here is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. . . . most of the kids from our group at the Ethiopian Airport. I'll start figuring out video while this loads.


Aaron

Malach is staring off into space, 2nd from the right.

Mein Name ist Malachi, Ich bekam mein Visum, und Ich werde zum deutschen Flughafen angef├╝hrt!!!!

(My name is Malachi, I got my visa, and I'm headed to the German airport!!!!!)   

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The lines for me have fallen in pleasant places (one of my favorite psalms)

Hi all,

Well, we finally got some photos up, (as you can see on my wife's
blog; brittonadoptionjourney.blogspot.com)

The key there was to resize the photos very, very tiny in Snapfire,
and then to kick everyone else off the computers at the hotel , and
email at 9 pm when the phones aren't busy in Addis :) We went 3 for
3 (although the other computers weren't functioning at the time, so
no one was "kicked off" but the dial up lanes were clear :) )

I'm readying a bunch of pictures and video for the German airport
tomorrow night to upload all at once. It should happen around
Midnight Denver time-ish. But, at any rate all can partake in the
goodness when you wake up on Saturday.

God is really, really good. We have a stunningly handsome boy that
sleeps well and likes to play! As of now, he doesn't like getting
put down or transferring between people, he's still a little scared
there. But, when we saw the orphanage and transition home, that was
understandable :).
speaking of the orphanage, that was a very tough trip. . . roughly 70
kids, 30 babies all together. They are well taken care of, but some
of the babies were sick, had IV's, and they all needed a home. :(
The older kids were in school and sang us a wonderful song. Jody
tucked in some of the babies with new, warm blankets from Omaha
(thanks Aunt Lynette). We saw the room where Malachi lived for a few
months. Very sad there, very emotional. . . .

We can't wait to get home. The German embassy was much more "all
business" than the US embassy. We were all wanded, and they had me
remove everything from the diaper bag to check. After a few
questions, they told us to come back at noon tomorrow for the visa for
Malachi.

Apparently 1 year old orphans are very dangerous in German airports
(sheesh). Seriously, American citizens don't need a visa, but 1 year
old Ethiopians do. . . . . oh well. . .they won't understand my
complaints anyway, so I'll keep them to myself.

So, if that happens we're good to go at 10pm tomorrow night to
Germany. (noon Colorado time). If that doesn't happen, I'm off
to the Ethiopian airport to buy a ticket for NYC (via dubai). I feel
good about Germany happening. . our agency helped us alot there.

All of the Ethiopians (except the one's employed by the German
embassy :) ) are ecstatic over the Obama victory. I couldn't sleep
well last night, so I saw the whole thing, and there was much
rejoicing in this country. They really see this as a triumph for
their people, and in an in-direct way, it really is. Very historic
moment.

I miss home, miss diatonic music (outside of some great old school Bon
Jovi at the hotel, and George Benson in the vans) , and miss the kids.
Guys, dad is coming home soon, and he can't wait to see you. We'll
wrestle for a bit at the airport and make Malachi laugh (he has a
great laugh).

See everyone soon,

Aaron

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good first day

Well, we brought Malachi home tonight. . gave him some food. .a bath,
and put him to bed. We'll see how he sleeps, but he ate alot and he
likes to play, especially with basketballs (there was much
rejoicing).

There is a rumor that an internet cafe exists close by that actually
gets wi-fi. So, after we go to the US embassy tomorrow for Malachi's
visa, we'll see if we can't sneak down there so I can upload some
media. Sorry for the delay. I hope it doesn't have to wait until
friday night at the German airport (worst case scenario). So,
anyway, . . no promises, but hope springs eternal. :)

Thanks for everyone's comments. . . The nuggets trade is crazy ( but I
like it :) ). . . and I feel for everyone who's waiting for a
picture. I've been waiting through alot of status wheels, the last
few days :)

He has a shaved head now, and looks pretty slick if I do say so
myself. . .Sam, we need to keep up appearances, as he is currently the
best looking man in the family :)

God bless everyone,
Aaron

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hello Malachi!

Hi all,

Well, yesterday was an amazing day. We got to meet our son, hang out
with him, and watch him sleep for 2 hours. :).

Jody covered our first meeting over on her blog
(brittonadoptionjourney.blogspot.com), so I'll let you read it there.

I commenced to try and send off a slew of videos and pictures, but
alas, we are on dial-up here in Ethiopia. During free time today and
tomorrow, I'm going to try and find an internet cafe, so that all of
you can share in our experience, until then, you'll have to "settle"
for my wife's wonderful writing. She does a great job. . . her
technical director stinks and currently has failed in his tasks :)

Also, they don't have blogger in Ethiopia, so we must use the
gmail/blogger email interface, which via dialup. . . . doesn't work
for any kind of media :).

But, I press on. . . . . .

There's a bunch of funny stories that I'll start to blog about once I
except defeat from the dial-up internet (hasn't happened yet :) )

Here's one quick one: The election is all over the news here (we
only get CNN and the BBC). So, I was down watching my computer's
status wheel turn and the receptionist asks me if I've voted. I told
her I voted before I left, and she said "McCain, yes?". I said
"yes". She said "Obama is a Muslim, yes? I have heard this." In
Ethiopia this would be a very bad thing for 1/2 the country, it's very
divided along religious lines. Some lies can travel across the world
:)

I told her that it was a rumor, and not true, but that I just agreed
with McCain's policies more. Sigh. . . . .

More to come,
Aaron

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hello Ethiopia!

Hi all,


We've landed. . we're doing well. . no shots were fired when we were in Syria  (except, apparently on their border with Iraq).   The coffee is really good here, and needed since I've slept about 3 hours since Saturday.  It should hit me in about 3 hours.  But, I'll have copious amounts of Ethiopian coffee coarsing through my veins at that point. 

Jody's being a champ, she's even sharing our 1 water glass with me in our room.  (she hates doing this :)  )   Our room is very nice, and Malachi will have a pretty kickin' crib for a few days.  We'll get some pictures up later today. 

We get to meet Malachi after lunch today,. . that's exciting.  Then we'll leave him at the transition home tonight, and pick him up for good tomorrow.  

Oh yeah, . .and the guy who runs the desk at our hotel rocks old school Bon Jovi at 7:30 in the morning!  (now).   All is right in the world.

 I have alot of thoughts to post about the middle east and the muslim culture in London.  . . . later  :)  



God bless,

Aaron
videoSo, this is the first of what will hopefully be many enthralling videos.  I've (obviously) never honored the rule:  "if you don't have anything interesting to say, don't say anything at all".  So, here goes.  I promise they'll get better.

The trip run down so far:

conversations with my wife :  good

canadian food:   bad

free wi fi:  nowhere

Get smart, the movie:  good

London:   foggy

Thai airlines plane:   humoncreous 

The smell of fresh fish and espresso side by side:   interesting